Musings

Adversity will serve us unexpectedly, unless we insist we are destined to suffer. 

That insistence primes our subconscious to seek out misery.  We invent a devil—made by us and for us—to accommodate our perception.

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36 thoughts on “Musings

  1. Yes, but the implication is that we somehow choose to insist that we are destined to suffer. I don’t believe we have any choice in the matter. The notion of free choice and responsibility is just plain religiosity dressed up in the disguise of morality and law. We are in fact driven to do whatever we do from the word go, we have no option, just as the universe is doing whatever it has to do from its big bang birth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you say so, but as far as I know, no one has proven or disproven the existence of free will. Until it has been completely disproven, I would rather think and act as if it exists. It would be a terrible waste if even the smallest spark lived within me, and I chose to ignore it out of disbelief and resignation.

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      • I don’t think it is possible to prove the connection between cause and effect either… but science and technology, based as they are on the observation and experiment seem to manage very well without any ghosts in the machine. You speak of a ‘spark’… I assume you are alluding to the spark of Zeus? But that is ancient-world stuff. We now know that God is a word which means ‘I haven’t got a clue’; that God is merely the personification of light, a sleight of hand from the powerful and privileged tyrannical masters (so to speak) that run this earth performed in order to dupe subjugate and oppress the great slave populace.

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      • I think where you and I would disagree is how definitive present scientific conclusions actually are. Until they start accounting for much more than a fraction of the universe (4% of the observable portion, according to the most reliable model of science thus far, which seems to be quantum mechanics from what I understand), the origin and nature of time/space, the existence or not of other universes, the significance of psychedelics, and the new conundrums arising from the observation of UFOS (once a crackpot idea, but now acknowledged in recent articles in the NY times), then I would avoid making such clockwork assumptions about our existence. In my opinion, the true strength of science lies in its humility, where it comfortably abides in the position where it cannot account for a given phenomena, and seeks to understand the causal mechanism through which it functions.

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      • Apologies… some errors in my initial response… here the revised version: I don’t think it is possible to prove the connection between cause and effect either… but science and technology, based as they are on observation and experiment of same, seem to manage very well without any random ghosts in the machine. You speak of a ‘spark’… I assume you are alluding to the so-called ‘spark of Zeus’? But that is ancient-world stuff. We now know that God is a word which means ‘I haven’t got a clue’… that God is merely the personification of light, a sleight of hand, from the powerful and privileged tyrannical masters (so to speak) that run this earth, performed in order to dupe, subjugate and oppress the great slave populace.

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      • A somewhat cynical and un-nuanced view in my opinion. I don’t doubt the truth of it, but the way you have phrased it, I think, leaves out the fact that faith in something greater can have its upsides and has carried people into freedom and revolution. I cannot argue with it, however, if it brings you a sense of peace and comfort, for that is the underlying purpose behind personal belief regarding existence, in my opinion anyway.

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  2. What? ‘clockwork assumptions’? ‘somewhat cynical and un-nuanced view’? ‘if it brings you a sense of peace and comfort’?

    None of these tags applies to me or my views. You are surely talking about yourself.

    My fellow human being, I beseech you, leave talk of UFO’s, quantum mechanics, psychedelics, and the meaning of life, to others, while you still have time.

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    • Instead of a point-by-point rebuttal, I’m perceiving a blanket dismissal. You seem like someone who seems interested in science, so I strongly encourage you to investigate phenomena as it stands instead of assuming that it fits into a predetermined view. I’d recommend starting with a heroic dose of psychedelics.

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      • Again, you are telling me about yourself! As a matter of fact I was a regular taker of mescalin, lysergic acid diethylamide, magic mushrooms and some pretty strong hashish more than 40 years ago. I also read all the available literature (or most of it) on the subject. I also worked with heroin and cocaine addicts for a while…. There really is nothing to say about these substances other than that they take one into fantasy worlds. I found that it was possible to be ‘high’ all the time without the need for substances. Lol !

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      • Not at all–I’m specifically addressing your comment where you imply that I shouldn’t talk about UFOs, psychedelics, and quantum mechanics. Why leave talk of those things to others when the lack of knowledge about those subjects imply that we cannot yet reach the deterministic conclusion you seem to have embraced?
        As far as your personal experimentation, I think that’s awesome. But I find it puzzling that you say there’s nothing about these substances other than they take one into a fantasy world. The evidence seems to imply they have great use as therapeutics. Anecdotally, I have a veteran friend who would have killed himself out of despair if not for DMT, and studies seem to support that psychedelics can foster mental health and optimization, when used in the appropriate manner. The opposite seems to be true for opioids and stimulants. I hesitate to go down the rabbit hole of proving who’s telling who about whomself, as that seems to be a better-worded version of the playground accusation, “No–YOU are!” when in fact we do not know each other aside from a few informationally stunted exchanges in text. I’m responding by how I interpret your phrasing.

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    • You should try it again–Paul Stamets has compelling evidence for neurogenesis when microdosing psilocybin in conjunction with vitamin D and lion’s mane, followed by a high dose of niacin to maximize the distribution of each compound.

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      • Why? What for? There is nothing to be gained. It’s been nice talking to you but no more I’m afraid! Your mind appears to be closed fast. It’s as though you have some sort of fear of reason and logic… as though you have stopped your ears and don’t want to hear manifest truths. I really do have better things to do than to try to persuade you to think critically about your irrational beliefs. So, my friend, I bid you bye bye, and I wish you well.

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      • It seems the opposite to me. I’ve referenced a well-respected mycologist who has been instrumental in causing the government to reconsider their position on psychedelics, to the point where they have approved studies on psychedelics by vetted institutions such as MAPS and gotten promising results with PTSD and end-of-life patients. When I decided to reference a professional, you responded with a condemnation of my critical thinking and rationality. I feel my response was in the spirit of open-minded debate that was willing to look at the current science. Yours seems to rely on attacking my character and willingness to listen. I’ll leave it to whoever reads our exchange to decide who is truly closed-minded.

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  3. I think the problem here is that we’re speaking different languages, you, an American dialect / variant of English, me, English London grammar school English.

    I don’t know how we got onto the subject of drugs, lol, since my original post merely questioned your Voluntarist assumptions and beliefs in spirits and hobgoblins.

    Now you’re giving me BS about some amateur mycologist / businessman!

    Do me a favour, I wasn’t born yesterday!

    And I’ve no doubt your readers, mostly Americans, will decide in your favour, but WTF!

    Finally, no hard feelings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps that’s the case with the dialogue, as I have interpreted our original positions as this: you believe there is enough evidence to conclude we live a fully deterministic existence (implying there is no hope whatsoever), whereas I believe that we have nowhere near enough evidence to conclude anything of the sort.
      As far as drugs, it seems you have no fact-based rebuttal to the idea that scientifically/statistically backed positive outcomes with psychedelic therapy are valid and bear investigation. Instead, you question my critical thinking and character at even bringing up the prospect. From what I can tell, you seem to think the proper response is outright dismissal and character-based attacks instead of open-minded consideration. Good luck with that worldview. I’ve tried it before and it hasn’t served me well.

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      • With reference to your second paragraph first, a few remarks are in order. Number [1] You misrepresent me, yet again! I am probably one of the most open-minded individuals you are ever likely to come across. [2] Why your desire to play the victim? I came here to place a comment and in good faith and yet all you seem to want to do is go on the defensive and accuse me of ad hominems. [3] I am speaking plain English, no fancy modern jargon, just simple plain English, man to man, so why can’t you show some good humour, lighten up and indulge me or is that too much to ask? There’s enough contrariness on the Internet as it is, why add to it?
        Now, your first paragraph. I have nowhere implied that a deterministic universe equals no hope! That is your inference. In actual fact a universe in which free will abides is a place, a dystopia, a nightmare scenario, where innocent people get punished and tortured by ruthless tyrants: it’s here and now world. That is the fact, indisputably, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the guilty get away with crimes against humanity. This the world of free choice: you are held responsible for your actions. And punished or rewarded accordingly. One’s genes, upbringing, formative experience, education, ingrained habits, etc, dictate the course of one’s life. But once a person understands all this, (and there are many great minds, from Einstein to Tolstoy to Spinoza etc, etc, who have understood this and seen the light, as it were,) he or she becomes a better or more open-minded person as a result, more forgiving, more understanding, less judgemental, and so on. So that is the reality my friend. And it is not just a matter of opinion: Courts of law do hold individuals responsible for their actions. That is a fact. Best wishes to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not sure where you get the idea that I want to play the victim, but you’re entitled to your opinion. Wouldn’t we all be victims if free will was a moot point? Wouldn’t your stance by default make everyone into a victim? It’s either we’re all victims of all-powerful circumstance, or we have free will and I am guilty for playing one. As far as an ad hominem accusation, you throw out the implication that I’m irrational for listening to Paul Stamets despite his widely established credentials and many decades of experience, cooperating with both governments, activists, and businesses. Also the idea that UFOs should be dismissed when the NY times has vetted the 2004 Nimitz incidence where multiple credible fighter pilots have testified their encounter is real (if that isn’t enough, you can view a video of their comms and radar footage during the encounter on YouTube). seems to be more close-minded to me than my stance: stating these issues bear more investigation and that until we fully understand them, we can’t conclude “We are in fact driven to do whatever we do from the word go, we have no option, just as the universe is doing whatever it has to do from its big bang birth.” It’s interesting that you’re accusing me of not being light; I thought you were going to stop commenting several comments ago; why the investment? We’re simply exchanging information (on my page no less), so why insist that I exchange it in the way you like according to your subjective barometer of whether it’s lighthearted or not? As far as the determinism, I full well recognize the power of external circumstances; I had a genetic test done by 23&me a couple years back, just to see what factors push and pull me without my conscious knowledge. You seem ready to conclude that these factors are all powerful and lead to a better or more open-minded person, but if we do in fact “have no option” wouldn’t that be moot? We couldn’t help it whether we were better or more open-minded, just as I couldn’t help it if I wasn’t being lighthearted or you couldn’t help it if you dismissed investigation-worthy data out of hand. We’d be destined to have our back-and-forth until its inevitable conclusion, and we wouldn’t be able to help the tone or manner in which we debated. Those scenarios arising from a lack of free will seem to make your requests into performative contradictions, or actions that ironically contradict the beliefs of the actor. Because if you have free will, you are responsible for making those requests, but you are using your lack-of-free will stance to contradict the existence of free will. If you don’t have free will, you are simply a victim of circumstance, which you have ironically accused me of playing.
        Now the complete lack of free will may or may not be, but I think a more ethical stance is we don’t truly know if we have “no option,” as you have conclusively stated. Until this is proven, however, I choose to believe I have some free will, and part of maximizing it is understanding that a substantial amount of my decision-making has been compromised by external circumstances, which allows me to leverage any free will I have to its highest capacity. But according to you, this is a useless stance, as you have concluded through an extremely limited understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe (not belittling you, simply stating how much more science has yet to discover by its own admission) that we have “no option.” Remember now: don’t beat yourself up for not taking your leave of this conversation as you stated you would earlier, because neither of us have any free will (well in that case, I guess you couldn’t help it if you beat yourself up or not); we are caught in the gears of a machine that you have concluded–through your extremely limited knowledge–has complete say in every one of our actions and thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, as if proof were even necessary! I mean, it is self-evident from everything you say that your belief in the irrational myth of free will is fixed and unshakeable. No amount of rational argument, no amount of substantive proof, that I, or anyone else, might provide, will ever change your view. And yet still you deny the obvious conclusion to be drawn!

    Try to disbelieve in free will… go on… but you can’t, can you! Lol!

    Yes, and I am in the same boat, I firmly believe, no, I know, that everything that happens in the universe, including individual thought processes and ideas to the effect that we have freedom of choice, free will, are responsible for our actions, and so on, has been determined and follows laws and can even be predicted to a certain extent.

    The difference between you and me though is that you rebel against (or imagine you can choose to deny) the obvious, whereas I accept it. Who then is the more open-minded?

    As for these stories about UFO’s… I can only laugh! It’s just as if someone said to me, ‘Believe me, Peter, I just saw fairies at the bottom of the garden dancing around an Amanita Muscaria mushroom and one of them looked just like Paul Stamets.’

    Get out of here!

    I think that’s about it now. Nice talking to you. You can have the last word! Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is not unshakeable. In my past comments, I have stated that until it is definitely proven wrong, I choose to assume that we have at least a little bit of free will. You seem to operate under the assumption that we have more than enough evidence that we can make the conclusion we have no free will, which only leads me to believe you cannot consider new evidence for whatever reason, as we would need to fully understand the brain (which we don’t) and probably the fundamental nature of reality which leads to the creation of the brain and everything that networks with it (which, once again, we don’t). Your inability to consider new evidence seems to be evident in the fact that you cannot effectively counter credible, investigation-worthy testimony and research by lifelong experts such as Commander David Fravor or Paul Stamets. You use the same argument that those with closed minds and deep insecurity have used in the past: that I am ridiculous (maybe even insane) and so are the experts whom I have referenced just for bringing up the prospect, despite inductive evidence that has not been conclusively proven irrelevant. And now, it seems you retreat in that same manner, in a huff of supposed common sense and indignant righteousness where you are the better for letting me have the last word. Who has sided with the more ethical assumption? You, who seem to have firmly decided that (despite the fact that science has admitted it is nowhere close to understanding the brain or the fundamental nature of reality) we have no free will? Or I, who acknowledges we have so much yet to discover, and allow for the possibility of free will until it is conclusively disproven? Keep firm in your promise of leaving the conversation this time, if you can. Unless you want to cast yourself again as a victim of your lack of free will.

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      • I’ve listened to Sam Harris before, and I believe I heard this particular segment a couple years ago. He makes the same overly conclusive leap that you do at 0:35 when he says “Everything you think and do arises from this ocean of prior causes.” When we haven’t yet mapped out every prior cause down to the quantum level, and you haven’t yet mapped quantum phenomena to any definitive measure of cause and effect, that statement loses its validity, for we cannot trace causality with sufficient rigor to our individual actions. On a grosser level, we don’t yet fully understand how our brains work or how our genes express themselves, so there is no way to conclusively rule out free will. The only accurate statement toward your end of the spectrum is that it is very evident that we don’t have COMPLETE free will due to past circumstance. That’s why therapy, psychedelics, and introspection are invaluable–they help us recognize behavorial loops we are unconsciously stuck on, and give us a chance to change them with the limited free will we have (which, until conclusively proven, should be the assumption). Also, I thought you were done commenting?

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      • Well, of course, you are the world’s leading authority on these matters! Look, I’m really sorry I pointed out a major flaw in your initial ill-reasoned remark. I realise now too late perhaps that what this is really all about is your desire to restore some sort of credibility for yourself in the eyes of your readership / clients or whoever they may be that read your theories and waffle. So, that said, I apologise, unreservedly, for pointing out your hasty remark and the fact that you talk complete bunkum and are proud of it too. Your overweening arrogance to do with matters that are clearly beyond your ken and your smug triumphalism are a sign of a very immature mind. So hold old are you? I didn’t comment, I merely sent you an item to try and get you to question your delusion but as we all know, I don’t include you, it is impossible to change the thought patterns of a clinically deluded paranoiac although, second thoughts, maybe a course of electro-convulsive therapy might work… no, I doubt it somehow you are too far gone. Anyway, stick all that in your pipe and smoke it. I mean really, ‘on a grosser level, we don’t yet fully understand how our brains work’ etc etc is the biggest load of meaningless rhetoric I have heard in a long time. Go take your acid and blow your mind. Good day!

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      • You accuse me of arrogance and ignorance when I’m simply parroting common knowledge: we have an incomplete understanding of the fundamental nature of our existence, even according to our most reliable model of science (quantum physics), and thus cannot account for every causal interaction that would conclusively rule out the existence of free will. Also common knowledge: we haven’t achieved a fully comprehensive understanding (in the causal sense, which is what matters in this context) of our genes, epigenes, and brain, which is why we still spend money on researching these topics. These have fairly direct causal links to our behavior, so unless we can be 100% sure they eliminate any free will we may or may not have, we cannot conclude we don’t have free will. You seem bent on responding to these assertions with ridicule of my supposed delusion and arrogance. But which of us is arrogant–the one who works with logical implications derived from commonly accepted gaps in our collective knowledge, or the one who vehemently claims those gaps don’t exist, and claims to be able to definitively rule out the existence of free will? Lastly, you say that your video link doesn’t qualify as a comment, but it is nevertheless a response, which paints you as someone who uses semantics to try and eke out a win while dishonoring the spirit of your original remark, which was to break off dialogue. What’s the use of vowing to stop commenting if we keep responding to each other with memes, videos, and gifs? Wasn’t the original intent to break off dialogue? And I can’t help but notice you have commented again, directly contradicting your earlier vow to stop commenting, regardless of whether your video does or does not qualify as a true comment.

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      • Well, well, well! Just keep repeating the same old dirge but from now on no one with a shred of common sense will take anything you say at all seriously. You are living in some fantasy world (and you are the centre of it) that has no relation or relevance to reality i.e., the real world. I did take pity on you for a while and tried to help you out your abysmal straitjacketed worldview, but there was no response, I mean, you just carried on with your monomaniacal insistences and inconsistencies of thought, your one-track ‘I’m right and everybody else is wrong’ mental delusion. The fact is I have kicked around this planet way longer than you and have explored many more avenues than you and with my knowledge and experience (as well as my high intelligence) I cannot but dismiss your ideas as absurd. You ought really to widen your reading, check out, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky or Melville, or Jane Austen… where do I begin with you? Your education is sorely lacking. Open your mind to stuff other than getting high on mescalin. I mean, you know, what can I say to a person like you who has shamelessly entrenched himself, turned to stone, virtually, who adamantly sticks to his guns even though he knows full well that he has been defeated and lost the battle and the war?

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      • How I have lost the battle and the war? I operate off a commonly accepted assumption: that we don’t yet know how everything works, which leads to the logical implication that we cannot conclusively rule out free will. You seem to embrace the opposite: that we know the causal relationships between all pieces of existing matter/energy to the dawn of time and throughout the universe, known and unknown (the possibility of a multiverse is relevant as well, but I can make my point without it), which is what we would need to understand in order to conclusively say we have no free will whatsoever. Instead of addressing this, you choose to attack me with accusations of personal failings and an inadequate appeal to authority (the fact that you have “kicked around this planet” longer than me, which is the same as someone saying they are right simply because they are a higher rank, meaning they do not want to address the actual logic of an idea). Even if free will were conclusively disproven, it would be a double-edged sword, for if free will doesn’t exist, existence has made you into someone who presumes to have knowledge beyond what the current evidence can conclude (a causal framework that accounts for all interactions, quantum and gross, which would be able to definitively rule out the existence of free will and predict any and all actions), and responds to a logical assertion by questioning my sanity and stability (a tactic favored by unethical/desperate clergy and politicians,), inflammatory language, and the emotional inability to disengage from a conversation when you have repeatedly said you would do so, overtly and by implication. I honestly don’t know whether it exists or not. It’s actually good for you either way: if it doesn’t exist, you have been forced into a position where you take the low road with personal attacks and refusal to embrace the fairly evident premise our knowledge of causality is not godlike–that we still have much research to do in genetics and physics before conclusively ruling out free will. If free will doesn’t exist, taking the low road isn’t your fault. It is how you were made. If it does exist, that’s also good: even though you have taken the low road, you can use whatever free will you have to allow for uncertainty, and optimize your decision-making process by choosing to accurately balance your lack of knowledge with what you do know. You can also fulfill your intention to stop commenting. Either way is good.

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      • You are now conflating terms! We are NOT talking about the extent of our knowledge as to ‘how everything works’, we are talking about your dogmatic religious belief in free will. The fact that *it* (free will) is a ‘commonly accepted assumption’ doesn’t make it true! God is another commonly accepted assumption so, presumably, you believe in God too. Lol! No matter how much you may wriggle and squirm as I spotlight your false beliefs you can’t escape from the truth. You throw some red herring into the proceedings and think you have gotten a victory? Impossible, you are standing on quicksand. I’m laughing all the way to the bank, so to speak! I can’t be bothered to read your post in it’s entirety… that is one of the problems here, you talk way too much and love the sound of your own verbaige but you seem incapable of listening or hearing truth and especially when it comes from someone wiser and much more knowledgeable than you about the facts of life. So, the sooner you submit the better all round. Adios! And if you want to publish this exchange between us please feel free but do not edit my words. It’s been fun, at times, now it’s over, ha ha. Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Actually we are in fact talking about how everything works. In order to 100% rule out the existence of free will, you would have to show that in every circumstance, you could conclusively prove that we have not acted one iota out of accordance with our environment. And our environment is dependent on mechanisms and origins we don’t fully understand. That being the case, we cannot measure the effect of these mechanisms and origins with 100% certainty and apply it to our behavior. We would have to do that to conclude if our behavior is completely devoid of free will. We cannot decide one way or the other. We can only say there appears to be definite correlation between environment and behavior, but I believe the accepted p-value (margin of error regarding an expected conclusion) in social sciences is shockingly high, something like 20% last I looked, meaning outcomes in human behavior are statistically very uncertain, which leads an all-encompassing conclusion like yours to be similarly uncertain. You, however, seem to rely on ineffective appeals to authority and attacks on my character and sanity to rebut this.
        You seem very invested in this argument, to the point of adding a PS to correct an obvious typo which is easily recognizable and of no consequence to anyone who is focusing on the relevant points. You have said goodbye before, gone against it, made semantic excuses that function as a performative contradiction against your original intent, and now you say goodbye again. Let us consider a scenario where there is no free will. I would conclude you are to be pitied. You use semantics, personal attacks on character/sanity, and false appeals to authority like the fact you are older than me to fuel your argument, implying you are insecure and ego-driven. Existence has made you into someone who doesn’t have enough conviction to keep their vow to disengage from this conversation, even when you have pretended to leave in a huff multiple times and tried to take the high road by saying I could have the last word. But be thankful, for this supposed lack of free will has allowed me such traits. I will disengage from this conversation and take you up on your offer of having the last word in this statement. If you respond to this, I will unpublish it, fulfilling the vow you did not have the capability to carry out yourself. As I said before, if you truly have no free will, you are to be pitied. But if you do have free will, then I believe there is hope, for you can choose to conduct yourself in a way where you do not rely on huffing and puffing to engage in an debate. There is also hope in the idea that you might be able to live up to your word and disengage from this conversations as you say you will, instead of constantly coming back and attacking my character and sanity, only to say you’ll disengage again. Personally, I choose to believe there’s hope for you. Good luck.

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  5. Glad you liked the post on my site regarding positive and negative freedom, a great truth, I think, and that you liked my ‘Comment’ on your ‘light-sabre’ duel for the life or death of a related great truth: free will. My haiku about the three cups was the least I could do after enjoying the highlight of my day by following the joust on your site.
    Were I as wise as the defender of the Against (the possibility of free will) side seems to think he is, and as rational as I think the defender of the For side seems to be, I’d award the For side a 10 for erudite thrusts and justified parries and sustained high-minded adherence to the Queensbury rules of intellectual debate, and I’d award the Against side a 10 for leprechaunic imperviousness to reason..
    I’d also call a draw on style. Against, for demonstrating the pub-fighting school of thought, whereby you feint high while striking low to defend against a ‘naive’ opponent’s rational rigor, and offer no rational support for knowledge of a great truth beyond life experience (the only teacher of wisdom), while For offered rationally anchored open-minded scientific curiosity about the possibility of learning a great truth, but without empirical evidence of free will..
    Where one side defends direct knowledge of a state of a great truth, and the other defends the dearth of knowledge of the state of that great truth and supports the pursuit of that knowledge, one is reminded of Niels Bohr’s observation: “While the opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false, the opposite of a great truth is also true.” Also of Lao-Tzu’s observation, “All true words are paradoxical.” From which observations one might reasonably infer that free will is probably at once potentially as 1 as it is 0, unless and until someone looks under the cup, thereby collapsing the probability state.
    Until then, thanks again. Now I feel compelled to use my free will to follow my bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Paradox and irony are logical contradictions that pop up throughout existence. Personally, I think that implies logic is only a partial mode with which to experience reality, and that to experience reality in its entirety requires a transcendent (beyond logic or words) state of perception.

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